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October 11, 2016
MILWAUKEE — Marquette University's Center for Peacemaking this year will more than double its work in Milwaukee Public Schools to help students who have been assigned to alternative schools due to serious disciplinary violations to modify behavior, improve attendance and decrease suspensions.
Under a one-year, $240,480 contract with MPS, the center will operate its Peace Works program in three "Behavioral Reassignment Schools," expanding the program that has been running in MPS schools the past two years. The MPS schools where the services will be provided are Lad Lake Synergy South, Southeastern Education Center and Banner Prep.
"We have a proven track record of helping students in these schools modify behavior, improve attendance, decrease suspensions, improve social skills, explore decision making and develop peaceful relationships," said Patrick Kennelly, the director of the center.
Many students in the program have an extensive history of referrals and suspensions at prior schools. In addition, a significant number of students are survivors of abuse and trauma and have been exposed to violence at a young age.
"Teaching young people to resolve conflict is one of the keys to a peaceful city," Kennelly said.
The center is expected to run about 40 sessions weekly in the three schools. The program has served more than 200 students in MPS since 2014.
The students will receive support in socio-emotional development, decision making, conflict resolution, and alcohol and drug education. The students will be taught through games, exercises, group interaction, reading, writing and reflection.
In addition, the center will help students return to traditional schools and provide support and mentoring during and after that transition. The center also will provide support services to schools and offer professional development and training to faculty, school administrators, teachers and support staff.
In the 2015-16 school year, 91 percent of students in the program decreased their suspensions compared to their previous school, with nearly 80 percent having no suspensions. Almost 80 percent of the students made progress toward two or more of their goals.
Housed within the Helen Way Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, the center contributes to instruction, research and community engagement at the university. For the past eight years, the center, though its Peace Works program, has helped behavioral reassignment schools, traditional schools, Catholic schools and youth-serving agencies teach young people to modify behaviors while simultaneously working to increase young people's connections to their schools and protective factors from violence. Peace Works has been implemented in MPS Behavioral Reassignment Schools, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, Chicago Public Schools and Catholic schools in Milwaukee and Chicago.
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